the beauty of the old city.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Jerusalem is such an amazing place.

Life in the old city has been spectacular so far. Our home at the Austrian Hospice has been incredible to say the least - we are literally right in the heart of the old city, steps away from the Christian Quarter, the Western Wall and everything else this beautiful city has to offer. I've fallen in love with this area of Israel, from the adorable little Jewish boys who run the streets to the various shop owners who pour me cups and cups of tea while I browse their scarf selection. The final stretch has been relaxing, informative, and eye-opening all rolled into one.

A normal day for our team now that we have wrapped up the majority of our classes consists of a somewhat consistent routine. We grab breakfast here at the hospice and usually head off to a spot around the city where we hear from a speaker on a topic ranging from Palestinian Refugees to Christian Zionism. Depending on what the day is, the afternoon could be a tour around the old city (which was what we did yesterday!) or an afternoon off to grab lunch and relax, write our papers or rest in preparation for this evening. Evenings can be anything from a tour of the tunnels under the Western Wall to hearing from ex-Israeli and Palestinian militants on reconciliation efforts in the city. Our days have been jam packed to say the least! Here are a few of my favorite snapshots from the past week.

The Dome of the Rock, The Western Wall, and the Mt. of Olives in the background.

The Church of the Holy Sepulcher, structure monumenting Jesus' tomb.

Golgatha, presumed spot where Jesus may have been crucified.

One of my favorite parts of the old city, gummi vendors - at least 3 on every street!

On the corner of the Western retaining wall

Lavender for days!

Grates and stuff, via Annie Hausler.

Cat daddying with the lovely Kristin Lo.

Southern steps with the ever-adorable Emilie!

I've really enjoyed our time here in the city because I think it has really given me something to discover within Israel outside of the political conflict that we are learning about. Yes, maybe Israel isn't doing everything right when dealing with the Palestinian issue, but there is so much more to this nation than we think. Being here in the heart of the old city, having conversation with shop keepers and locals has opened my eyes to another part of Israel. I can't base all my judgements of this nation based on their politics and the occupation. They are human beings too.

That was a rather large step for me, and a lot of other students as well. Most of what we have heard regarding the conflict here has been a bit sided with the Palestinians, and we haven't really been able to experience what life is like for the average Israeli. Living in the old city really gives us a glimpse of what a normal day is for these people. It has been an amazing experience and I've really enjoyed interacting and meeting Israelis.

Life is going by rather quickly, and I'm being reminded every day that home is rapidly approaching...whether I am ready to embrace that or not.

However, I have been blessed by the Lord and his answered prayers for me, where I ask for contentment and peace, he has abundantly allowed me to feel at peace with the end of this trip, ready to go home with a confident mindset that He has done a work here and that work will continue as I make my way back to the states.

The Lord has been so faithful to me over this past semester, and I cannot express my gratitude enough for that. He has given me comfort in bouts of homesickness, immense amounts of safety and traveling mercies, opened my eyes to so much, and created friendships with other students on this trips and too many locals in various countries to count. God has blessed me so, so, much, and I know it will only continue and I go home and prepare for another summer on the mountaintop.

We are almost at the 10 day countdown, folks.

The end is near...

Respectfully submitted,